Cab Driver Arrested in Hit-and-run

Incident left a 19-year old female soldier dead; gag order partially lifted on case on Tuesday.

A cab driver and his five passengers were arrested earlier this week in connection with a hit-and-run accident in the north last Friday in which a 19-year-old soldier was killed.

Nazareth Magistrate's Court judge Osaila Abu Assad partially lifted a gag order on the case on Tuesday, which apparently involved three vehicles that hit the female soldier, Amnash Yazatzu.

Cabbie - Frid - 2.2012
Haggai Frid

The accident occurred at about 4:20 A.M. on Route 66 near Kibbutz Hazorea in the Western Jezreel Valley. It was raining at the time and the soldier was either walking on the highway or on the side of the road. All of the motorists involved left the scene without calling the police.

A break in the police investigation Monday led to the arrest of the driver of one of the vehicles, along with his passengers. A number of vehicles have been impounded in the case and police say additional arrests are expected.

The detention of the driver, who is suspected of negligence, leaving the scene and failing to report the accident, has been extended by six days. His passengers were released to five days' house arrest.

The driver's lawyer, Yamen Massalha, said it never occurred to his client that he had hit anyone and if he had known, he would have stopped and offered assistance.

The passengers' lawyers, Doron Noy and Yahali Shperling, said their clients were young people who had gone out for the night and hired the driver to transport them in both directions. The lawyers said their clients were drowsy, but one was aroused when the vehicle "hit something." The passenger allegedly asked the driver what had happened and the driver said nothing was wrong.

On Monday, three days after the accident, one of the passengers provided testimony to the police.

Two days earlier, on the day after the accident, a young woman also reported to police that she had hit something in the vicinity of the fatal mishap. She was not arrested and her license was not suspended. She said she didn't know that she may have hit a person.

Massalha, the lawyer of the driver who was arrested, said his client's circumstances were similar to those of the young woman driver and therefore his client should also be released.

Israel Police Superintendent Roman Bronstein called on any others involved to come forward, warning that if they fail to do so, the evidence in the case will lead investigators to them.